Discuss Issues of equality and diversity and ways to promote inclusion with your learners. Review other points of referral available to meet the potential needs of learners.
Equality and diversity can raise issues concerning learners. It is not just about treating learners equally and offering individual support; there is more to it. Also find out and make your own review about ways of receiving support from direct and third party referrals.
Equality refers to the learners’ rights to attend and participate regardless of their differences, while diversity refers to valuing the learners’ differences (Gravells, 2008).
I manage a classroom of learners from different countries with diverse cultures and values. Hofstede, (2001) and others asserted that ‘Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster’.
Learners not only come from different cultures and backgrounds but they also differ in their abilities, needs, and the way they learn. Their differences must be recognised and considered by teachers who should treat them fairly and value each individual regardless of any differences. This way, learners will feel welcomed and included into the learning environment, engaged, empowered and supported by teachers (Gravells, 2008).
Both equality and diversity can raise issues concerning learners’ gender, race, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, intellectual, linguistic or other characteristics. Despite differences, learners must have equal access to learning without any discrimination, prejudice or other barrier. It is the teacher’s responsibility to eliminate or reduce any learning barriers by recognising and providing full access and support to learners with a disability or individual need (Miller and Sammons, 1999), for example, by providing large print, on tape or using symbols and ensuring appropriate class layout.
Teachers must not make any personal judgements or assumptions about their learners’ abilities. They must not offend learners’ religions but respect them. Assessment must be fair to everyone, and the language used must be clearly understood by all learners and must be non-discriminatory; in my classroom learners come from different countries and speak different languages. Some learners may show strength and expertise in one area and weakness in another. These may be addressed by how you teach and how you set up activities. ‘All we need to do is to manage the differences among our children by recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, planning lessons accordingly, using teaching strategies and adapting our curriculum to fit each child’s abilities and background’ (Shaeffer, 2004).
While equality and diversity are governed by legislation and code of practice, teachers must be up-to-date and aware of them and must also comply with the organisation’s policies. For a more inclusive and learner-friendly classroom, It is important to give learners the opportunity to discuss additional support at the beginning and throughout the training course. In fact, teachers must recognise that inclusion in education is one aspect of inclusion in society (Booth and Ainscow, 2002).
While following the institution’s policies, a teacher may refer to the line manager when advice is needed or difficult situations arise; such as with impairment or dyslexia. If necessary, especially in complex situations, a teacher may also refer to third party organisations or appointed specialists for help with learning difficulty, student finance, and similar issues, with the aim of supporting student inclusion.
To provide a pleasant environment for learners to achieve their potential, the teacher needs to plan for equality and diversity by setting up a strategy where everyone is included into the learning environment; a strategy for appropriate teaching style, presentation of materials and topics and the organisation of activities.